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Like I Know a Friend

Like I Know a Friend

Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Kari Ausenhus! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today and your your first week FREE! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!

Now, enjoy today’s post from Kari 🙂 

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Maybe it’s just me, or maybe you’re in this boat with me, but most of my life, many people emphasized to me the importance of having a personal relationship with God. While I longed for it, I didn’t know what that meant or how to go about it. Going to college definitely pushed me further in that direction as I realized that I didn’t have my parents’ faith to rely on and had to make my faith my own. However, I still had no idea what I was doing, and sure I grew, but I desperately wanted more.

Then I went on a date this past semester. No, it was not some horror story date, and I really did have a good time. Although it wasn’t destined to be more than one date, our conversation caused me to realize that I didn’t fully understand what it really meant for someone to genuinely pursue my heart. I was processing through all of it with my sweet friend, Megs, one morning when she brought me her Bible and told me to read Psalm 139 in the Passion Translation, and since that day it has been a lifeline for me. It is genuinely one of my most favorite passages now as it beautifully illustrates the pursuit of the Father. I encourage you to read the whole passage (it’s INCREDIBLE), but I have included some of my favorite verses:

1 Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. 2 You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. 3–4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book 6 This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.

14 I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord! 15 You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place, carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something. 16 You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book. 17–18 Every single moment you are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought!

O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore!

23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. 24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways— the path that brings me back to you.

Psalm 139, I’m telling you – breathtaking, beautiful, and a genuine picture of pursuit and intimacy. Seriously please highlight, star, circle, underline, bookmark, everything about this passage, so you will never lose or forget it! Every time I read it, God reveals more of Himself and more of His love for me.

Anyway, after reading this passage, I decided I wanted to let the Father pursue my heart as I chased after His. The passage begins with “Lord, You know everything there is to know about me.” Wow! The Creator of the universe knows me – knows you. Take it another step further, the Creator of the world knows you better than you know you both the good and the bad, yet He sent His Son to die so you could enter into relationship with Him. For real, just take a second to truly let the magnitude of that sink in. Let’s talk about this personal relationship and what it really means.

I’m going to use an illustration to explain my point. We live in an Instagram and social media-saturated society where we follow people we have never even met and “know” every little detail about them. Like before you meet someone in person you already know where they went on vacation last summer, the sport their brother plays, the name of their golden retriever puppy, and what they ate for breakfast this morning, yet you have never actually spoken to them. Now imagine if the only way you knew people was by their Instagram feed and nothing else. That would be so awful because we crave relationships – real, let’s do life together relationships. God is the same way. He knows, like He actually knows, every single thing about you and your life and still longs to have a personal relationship with you. He wants to know you because you tell Him all about you the same way you would talk to another person (that’s intimacy)!

I love the song, “Simple Gospel,” by United Pursuit in which we sing,

“I want to know you, Lord

like I know a friend”

That is truly the desire of my heart: to know the Father intimately and personally like I know my best friend because I want Him to be my best friend. I also want Him to know me the same way, so I began my journey to intimacy with the Father because I want to pursue His heart and have a relationship with Him like I would with someone I do life with face-to-face. I pour out my words on the pages of my notebook and sing His praises as I talk with Him in prayer.

I’d love to challenge you no matter what season of life you are in – maybe  you’re walking through singleness like me (and let me tell you this has been a perfect time to do this), or maybe you’re dating, engaged, or married – it’s never too late. Begin to pursue the Father like you would another person because here’s the beautiful thing, the Creator made us in His image, sees our imperfections, knows us inside and out, yet longs to have intimacy with us.

Not sure where to begin? Hey, I was in your shoes, so know that you are not alone. If you haven’t already read it or even if you have, I suggest starting by reading Psalm 139 in The Passion Translation. Some other ways I have pursued intimacy with the Father are through penning Him letters and conversations in my journal – some are prayers but some are just me pouring out my heart, thanking Him for the sweetest moments, being honest in my struggles and my need for Him, and asking Him to help me process through different seasons of my life. I also love praying out loud while I drive or run or when I’m in my room, and diving into His Word to discover more about who God is instead of just what He can do for me.

The good news is: He wants intimacy with you even more than you do, but I promise it will be the sweetest journey you’ve ever been on.

Burden for the Lost

Burden for the Lost

com·pas·sion

    /kəmˈpaSHən/

noun

    •sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. // to recognize the suffering of others and then take action to help

The origin of the word compassion helps us to truly understand and grasp the meaning and significance. In Latin, ‘compati’ means “to suffer with.” Compassion means to take on someone else’s suffering with them. Real compassion should change how we live. I recently heard a preacher say compassion fuels evangelism, and wow oh wow, that was so eye opening to me.

But first, let’s talk about eternity..

Eternity. One of the most powerful, beautiful, and to some, scariest words ever. So much depth behind it. I mean forever and ever and ever. It is quite literally impossible for us to understand or comprehend.

Ever since I was little, the concept of eternity had always scared me. I would avoid at all cost thinking about what eternity really was. I felt like I was completely alone in being afraid of eternity. I knew that forever with Jesus was a good thing, but I just never really understood why nobody else was scared of forever like I was. It was a constant internal battle I faced every day. One day, I just decided I was tired of being afraid. I decided to give all my anxious feelings and thoughts to God. I figured that was a way to ultimately trust that God had everything under control, even if I couldn’t understand it.

The truth is, we are not meant to understand. Knowing my flesh wasn’t capable of comprehending the magnitude of eternity gave me a glimpse of how powerful God is, and helped me realize that there is so much more to this life we live. It gave me perspective. Everything we see right now is temporary. Your phone, your house, your clothes, the trees, and your body won’t last. The things you can’t see are eternal. The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face.” Let’s keep our mind on what’s unseen.

When thinking about eternity, we should acknowledge how important what we do on this side of eternity really is. We are called to be a light in the darkness of this world, to make a difference in people around us, and to spread the Good News of Jesus. If people are going to be somewhere for eternity, it is so important for that place to be Heaven.

Is anyone going to be in Heaven because of you?

“The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me -to tell people the Good News about God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

To do that, to live on mission, we need to be a people of compassion.

It is our own human nature to constantly think about ourselves. To only consider what’s best for us. We tend to do what’s easiest and most comfortable. What a shame it would be to live our life consumed by our own desires. What a shame it would be to stay comfortable. We are called to be bold. We must remember that we are called to live a life of compassion.

For me, I truly learned what that meant during quarantine. You know it’s about to get real when someone brings up what they learned in quarantine. Lol! In the quietness and stillness of quarantine, I had a lot of time to think, and naturally this brought me to a new internal battle. As crazy as it sounds, it was then that I began to truly realize how sad it was that people were actually going to go to Hell and be separated from Jesus. Like forever. I always knew it, but I never really stopped to think about what it meant. The people in my classes, my friends who don’t know the Lord, people I come in contact with every day, probably are not all going to be in eternal Glory. This really shook me for the first time.

I remember one night, I had a dream. In the dream I could see the people around me falling short and me knowing they would not make it to Heaven, while all the believers around me continued to go on with life and failed to notice. I remember telling myself, “how are these people not going crazy knowing what’s coming for all these lost people?”

It was so real. I felt a real burden for the lost.

I thought about Paul and his intense burden he felt for his fellow countrymen. In Romans 9, Paul even expressed that his burden was so great that he would take the place of the lost if he could. Wow. Now that is compassion. The pit in my stomach caused by my thoughts over the lost lasted for weeks. It felt like I was feeling the pain of the world. While turning on the TV, getting on my phone, listening to today’s top hits on Spotify, it became clear that the world around us is filled with evil. It just simply made me sorrowful. One night  while I was reading, I thought, “If I’m feeling this way, imagine how God feels… I am only thinking about the people around me while He has all the people ever created to worry about.” It comforted me that I was not feeling that burden alone. Then it hit me. Maybe God is letting me realize the depth of eternity and letting me feel all that pain for the lost for a reason.

Maybe God was letting me hurt with Him.

The truth is, without that suffering, I may not have ever realized the true importance of sharing Jesus with others.

I see now that everything I have felt, all the confusion and pain had purpose behind it. There was purpose in the pain I felt. Because God cares, we must care. Thank you, Jesus, for opening my eyes.

As believers, we should be the city on the hill (Matthew 5:14). We need to spread the peace and love of Jesus Christ. It is still sometimes hard to not be overcome with sorrow for the fallen world around us, but we can have peace knowing that our hope is found in the Lord Jesus Christ as the way, truth, and life (John 14:6).

“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” … “But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.” (Psalm 30:5…Psalm 88:13)

Olivia is a member of Team LO and is a marketing major at Louisiana Tech University. She loves coffee dates, going on long walks, and her dogs, Max and Sophie.

Follow Olivia on Instagram @olivia_kate1

Like I Know a Friend

Finding Jesus In the Discouragement

Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Kailee Elise! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today and get your first week FREE! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!

Now, enjoy today’s post from Kailee 🙂 

 

Wake up.

Turn off the alarm.

Scroll through my phone.

Get up.

Pick up my to-do list.

Go through the motions.

And watch the next day roll around.

What day even is it? Monday? Friday? Sunday?

The days used to have such distinction, but now they simply roll together. Plans used to be made, but now they’re all canceled. Friends used to get together, but now it’s a risk to even do so.

It seems as if the world went on pause. But at the same time, it keeps moving. Time keeps passing. The to-do list still manages to fill up. And the emotions definitely don’t stop coming.

Fear.

Anxiety.

Waiting.

Loneliness.

Do any of these feel familiar? Truth is, we’re all in this together. Yet separate. As I was driving the other day, I passed a sign that was promoting to stay at home to stop the spread of covid. At the bottom, it read: #AloneTogether.

We’re all in this together. Yet ironically more alone than ever. Community can still be found over our phones. But in person? Very little so.

I’m going to be honest. This season has been lonely for so many, and I’ve been right there too. Longing for community. For friends to hang out with. To see people I haven’t in months, or even a year at this point. It’s normal. God designed us for community from the start. After forming Adam, He said that it’s not good for man to be alone. So no wonder this isolated season has been so challenging.

However, in the midst of this, I’ve realized that we’re genuinely not alone: Jesus is with us. Jesus is longing for a relationship. To be your friend. To be your Savior. To be able to pour into your life as you pour into Him.

Psalms 5:11 says, “but let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.” Even if the situation is less than desirable, take refuge in Jesus. And He can fill you up with gladness and joy.

Yesterday the weight of this entire season was weighing down on my heart. I was drained. I had little energy, or motivation to do much. Yes, I had a to-do list. But I questioned why I even needed to complete it. What the point in doing so was. If the things I had written down really, truly mattered, or if they were just written to have a sense of business. It felt like all purpose was nowhere to be found.

In hope for a little boost, I listened to a sermon, which usually fills me up with a newly found energy and centers my heart to Jesus, and the fullness He provides, again. The pastor pronounced that God is still moving even when you can’t see it. This is easy to say when you’re not experiencing slowness or discouragement. But in the midst of it, the true test arises.

Is your faith firmly in Jesus?

Do you trust that He’s still there, loves you, and has a plan intact?

Think of it as a spiritual muscle. When the discouragement, waiting, and questioning come, that’s when the muscle can be strengthened. It takes going through the uncomfortable to reach true growth that makes an impact. Just like with working out, it takes the exercises that aren’t necessarily loved at the moment to see progress. It may seem tough at the moment, but afterward, knowing you pushed through, is so rewarding. And over time, progress can start to show.

A muscle can’t grow overnight, or even in a week. It can take months or years. The same goes for spiritual growth.

When you feel the most purpose-less may be the times when God’s trying to grow your heart the most. When He’s truly trying to show you that in the mundane, you already have so much purpose. Because your ultimate purpose already rests in the fact that you’re a beloved child of God, made in His very own image. Our purpose isn’t found in how much we’re accomplishing, or whether our dreams are coming true or not. It’s found in resting in Jesus alone.

So in the questioning or feelings of purposelessness, take that time to challenge your faith. To remember Jesus is still there. He hasn’t forsaken you, and He’s still moving. In this day of doubt, I continued to listen to sermons, read the Bible, and books on people’s faith, and what God has brought them through. I worshipped. I focused on recentering my heart with Jesus’. And I did find a newly found sense of peace and fullness.

Discouragement may try to seep into your life over and over. But sometimes it simply takes letting the Savior fill you up again, to truly realize that He is there. And that He is all you need. Even through the losses. Even through the mundane.

When all purpose or motivation seems lost: remember God still has a plan. It may be slow. You may feel alone. But you’re absolutely not alone.

God is with you, has gone behind you, and is going before you.

He wants you to press into a relationship with Him when you feel alone.

He wants to work in your heart when you’re discouraged.

He wants to love you right where you’re at.

He’s on the move, my friend.

Every slow or difficult season is carefully crafted with a beautiful plan and blessing in store. It may not be now: it may be found in eternity. But in the midst of our struggles, we can place our hope and joy in Him. For in Him alone we will find refuge, joy, and rejoicing.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12).

Passion 2021 Recap!

Passion 2021 Recap!

God IS faithful. He was faithful in 2020 and is faithful with us now in 2021.

Over 500,000 people joined, 177 countries and territories, and over 100,000 dollars given to help end human slavery. All of that happened in just one day at Passion 2021.

The church is alive, because Christ is alive. And that is GOOD NEWS.

We’re breaking down some of the best moments of the day right here on the blog! It’s hard to put into words all that God did, especially considering we believe God moved SO much in the unseen and things we won’t see until Heaven. Join us as we pull some of the gold out from the speakers, round table, and worship moments.

Sadie Rob Huff

The night started out with Sadie asking us the question, “Who are you following?”

“If you want to feel loved, and cared for and accepted, you will not find it through fame. We have a generation looking for things through followers that you can only get from the One whom we’re following…Jesus Christ.”

AMEN! What an encouragement to set our eyes on the One we’re following in 2021.

Christine Caine

The question Christine hit us with was, “How do you remain faithful in a culture that’s saying that it would be better to just drift away or just go with the flow?”

She showed us Jesus Christ is the anchor for our soul in a post-modern culture. In her encouragement, she shared that it’s actually one of the best times to be a Christian because of how much people are searching for hope right now.

Friend, don’t just go with the flow, hold tight to our living hope, Jesus Christ!

Matt Chandler 

“Do not tease out the love of God from the wrath of God. You will cost yourself worship.”

WHOA, that’s good. What does he mean by this? He goes on to encourage: “I have a group of men in my life that I have plead with that if you see me drift and you love me you will confront me. That’s what it means to love me.”

His point: When we love someone, we confront the sin. It is the same with God. Because he loves us SO much, His wrath is great towards us if we are not walking in the way that He set out for us.

Christian Huff

Along the lines of influence, Christian shared: “I think with the idea of influence people think that means 100,000 followers but that could mean your classroom at school, it could be standing up for someone. Use your influencing knowing that the harvest in plentiful but the workers are few.”

It’s SO important to see that you have influence, friend. God doesn’t define influence the way the world does. God delights in using you, no matter how many people you have watching you.

“Use your influence to go change lives for the better.”

Jackie Hill Perry

On the topic of being lights for Jesus, Jackie shared: “If you don’t seem happy about being in Jesus, why do you think I would want to be in Jesus? It’s actually a strategy as a communicator of the gospel to make sure my language makes Jesus as beautiful as He actually is. I want your emotions to connect with the reality that HE IS GOOD.”

Do you put the beauty of Jesus on display? Let’s be a people that reflect his beauty and goodness in 2021.

KB

KB BROUGHT IT! This idea of blessings hit home for so many:

“The valley is not the blessing, but there is so much blessing we miss in the valley.”

While he said he would never want to romanticize suffering, God truly can use suffering as “spiritual accelerance.”

God will always use the valleys to give you a greater heart of wisdom and reality of Who God truly is.

So thankful for KB’s word on true blessing.

Levi Lusko

Also on the topic of influence, Levi offered this incredible insight: “If you take care of your devotions, God will always take care of the depth of your impact.”

If you want to be faithful, you can do that in the big, small, or wherever you go. Don’t ever underestimate the small things that he’s given you to steward, for where much is given, much is expected.

 

Ben Stuart

In the same convo, Ben said this regarding the “spotlight” that we thought was brilliant: “It occurred to me when I was young that I could spend my life chasing the spotlight around but it always moves, or you can just stay there and learn and be with God and when the spotlight swings around you have something to say.”

What an incredible reminder to be faithful right where we are and let God grow us there. Then, we might have something worth listening to.

Louie Giglio

So profound. “So, what does it mean that there’s a Maker? That you are made.” 

That alone has the power to change everything, friend. Have you ever thought about the reality that you were made by a perfect maker? That you were “fearfully and wonderfully made?” (Psalm 139)

It’s true for you and for us today. We believe that reality has the power to change lives.

Priscilla Shirer

“The strength of your life will depend on whether or not you will remain and stay rooted.”

What a word for us in a day and age where we are always being tossed side to side by culture. Let the strength of your life be founded on abiding, remaining, and rooting yourself in Jesus.

Tim Tebow

Tim wanted us all to know where our victory is found: “We get to live with courage, taking heart, because He won.”

There will never be a day when Jesus is not victorious, which means there is a never a day when we are not victorious.

“Because of Jesus, we can know we’re on the team that wins.”

Worship

We were brought straight to the throne room through the incredible worship at Passion 2021. Passion Worship, Maverick City, Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes, KB, Sean Curran, and Brazil’s Fernandinho, and Tauren Wells.

Our favorite moment had to be the duet between Kari, Cody, and Fernandinho as they sang the blessing in two different languages. Holy and Powerful.

And there you have it! That’s our Passion 2021 recap and if you want to watch all the sessions and relive the goodness of the day, visit www.passion2021.com/rewatch and get all the sessions through January 2021.

What was your favorite moment? Comment below and share how God impacted you through Passion!

Like I Know a Friend

In the Meantime…

Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Madeline Kellas! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today and your your first week FREE! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!

Now, enjoy today’s post from Madeline 🙂 

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A few days ago I was led to read chapter 29 from the book of Genesis which contains the story of Jacob and Rachel. To give some context to the story, Jacob and Essau were the sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob and Essau were twins, and when they were born Essau came out first, making him the eldest son. It was traditional in Jewish culture for the eldest son to receive a birthright blessing from their father. The abridged version of what happens next is that Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him Essau’s birthright blessing. Once Essau found out he was furious, so Jacob fled his homeland in order to escape Essau’s wrath, and that, my friends, is where Genesis 29 picks up.

During his travels, Jacob came upon a well and saw a group of men standing there who, as it turned out, knew a relative of his, Laban. The men at the well informed Jacob that Laban’s daughter, Rachel, who worked as a shepherdess, was approaching the well. Jacob was instantly captivated by her beauty and she was equally captivated by him.

Jacob asked, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?” “We do.” “Are things well with him?” Jacob continued.“Very well,” they said. “And here is his daughter Rachel coming with the flock.” Jacob said, “There’s a lot of daylight still left; it isn’t time to round up the sheep yet, is it? So why not water the flocks and go back to grazing?” “We can’t,” they said. “Not until all the shepherds get here. It takes all of us to roll the stone from the well. Not until then can we water the flocks.” While Jacob was in conversation with them, Rachel came up with her father’s sheep. She was the shepherd. The moment Jacob spotted Rachel, daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, saw her arriving with his uncle Laban’s sheep, he went and single-handedly rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban. Then he kissed Rachel and broke into tears. He told Rachel that he was related to her father, that he was Rebekah’s son. She ran and told her father. When Laban heard the news—Jacob, his sister’s son!—he ran out to meet him, embraced and kissed him and brought him home. Jacob told Laban the story of everything that had happened.

The chapter goes on to say:

When Jacob had been with him for a month, Laban said, “Just because you’re my nephew, you shouldn’t work for me for nothing. Tell me what you want to be paid. What’s a fair wage?” Now Laban had two daughters; Leah was the older and Rachel the younger. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful. And it was Rachel that Jacob loved. So Jacob answered, “I will work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” “It is far better,” said Laban, “that I give her to you than marry her to some outsider. Yes. Stay here with me.” So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. But it only seemed like a few days, he loved her so much.

Okay, so, this is one of the main sections of the text I want to focus on because there is so much information here to unpack.

Once Jacob started working for Laban, Laban desired to pay Jacob for his labor. However, instead of choosing to acquire wealth, Jacob asked Laban if instead of wages Jacob could be granted the privilege of marrying Rachel in return for his work. Laban agreed and determined Jacob would need to work for seven years before he could marry Rachel. Seven years!! I don’t know about you but waiting for long periods of time goes against every fiber in my being. I would like to note though, that in the Bible the number seven symbolizes unity and completeness. We see earlier in Genesis that God created the world in seven days, and on the last day God rested because his work was finished, or complete. Here, in this section of Genesis, we see that Jacob’s work will take seven years to complete. It was right here, the Lord whispered something new to me.

Before I delve into what the Lord shared with me, it is important to note that in Jewish society at this time of this story it was customary for women to give up their profession once they were married so that they could tend to the home and any children who were born. When we are first introduced to Rachel we are told that she was working for her father as a shepherdess, meaning had Laban granted Jacob his blessing to marry Rachel right away she would have had to abandon her work as a shepherdess.

It was right here that the Lord reminded me of something so important. In the seven years of waiting for Jacob to complete his contract of working Laban’s land, Rachel also continued to work as a shepherdess. While my initial reaction to reading that this couple had to wait seven years before they could get married was one of sadness and frustration, the Lord whispered in my ear “maybe Rachel wasn’t done with her mission.” Perhaps Jacob had to work those seven years so that Rachel could continue walking in her purpose. Maybe during her work, Rachel interacted with people who needed what she had to offer. Maybe, just maybe, Rachel wasn’t done serving the Lord and fulfilling her God-given purpose.

The scripture goes on to briefly describe Rachel and her older sister, Leah: “Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful.” Friend, I am going to put a pin right here and we will come back to this verse later.

Genesis 29 goes on to say:

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife; I’ve completed what we agreed I’d do. I’m ready to consummate my marriage.” Laban invited everyone around and threw a big feast. At evening, though, he got his daughter Leah and brought her to the marriage bed, and Jacob slept with her….Morning came: There was Leah in the marriage bed! Jacob confronted Laban, “What have you done to me? Didn’t I work all this time for the hand of Rachel? Why did you cheat me?” “We don’t do it that way in our country,” said Laban. “We don’t marry off the younger daughter before the older. Enjoy your week of honeymoon, and then we’ll give you the other one also. But it will cost you another seven years of work.”

Unfortunately, after working seven years for Laban, Jacob was tricked by him and ended up marrying Rachel’s sister, Leah. While what Laban did is not right, maybe Jacob missed the signs that he was being tricked. Perhaps in his rush to finally be out of his season of waiting Jacob followed his flesh rather than God’s Spirit. Friend, I don’t know about you but I have learned from my own experiences that the ways of the flesh always lead to destruction, but the ways of the Spirit always lead to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We so often view waiting as a punishment that we become so fixed on moving past our season of waiting that we do everything we can to try and run down the clock. However, in doing so and focusing only on what we want we often miss what God has intended for our season of waiting.

Maybe some of you are waiting to meet a boy, or waiting for your boyfriend to propose so any amount of time feels too long. Friend, I am there with you, I am in my own season of waiting right now, so I know firsthand how hard that can be. But can I suggest that maybe you haven’t met a boy yet because the Lord wants to be first in your life and heart. Or maybe the Lord wants you to use your season of singleness to fall in love with yourself and grow as an individual. Perhaps you’re not engaged yet because your heart posture isn’t right, or the Lord is currently working in your partner’s life and that takes priority over your desires. Or maybe, like Rachel, getting into a relationship, or marriage would distract and call you away from your purpose.

Friend, I know it is hard, but I want to urge you slow down and seek the Lord’s timing and purpose over your own because, as Jacob showed us, when we chase our own desires and flesh we often end up in a heap of trouble, and usually end up waiting even longer.

Later in Genesis 29, after Jacob worked another seven years and married Rachel, we see that his first wife, Rachel’s sister Leah, was really hurting. After all, Jacob worked a total of fourteen years so that he could marry Rachel. But then there was Leah, who the Bible described as having weak eyes. Remember that verse I said to put a pin in and we would visit it later? Let’s delve into that now. To my understanding, “weak eyes” means what it does today. In other words, Leah needed glasses.

While this part is slightly off-topic, I think it is important to note as the Lord highlighted it to me. When someone has weak eyes, and no access to glasses or any other corrective lenses, they have to take more time to focus, exercise precision, and be extremely intentional in order to do the task at hand because it is harder for them see clearly. Although many of us may want to be more like Rachel, a woman who is known for her beauty, friend, let me suggest that we strive to be more like Leah – intentional and faithful in everything we do, despite the circumstances or environment around us.

We go on to read that despite being unloved by Jacob, Leah remained faithful, and God blessed her for it:

When God realized that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb. But Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and had a son…

So, friend, in closing, I hope this spoke to you as it did me. I hope that instead of rushing to be out of your season of waiting that you take the time to slow down and act intentionally like Leah, while shifting your perspective and choosing to view this as time to walk-in your God given purpose like Rachel. I hope most of all, that during your season of waiting that you draw even closer to God.

Like I Know a Friend

For the Chronically Ill Christian

Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Lauren Styer! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today and your your first week FREE! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. Now, enjoy today’s post from Lauren 🙂 

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As a chronically ill Christian, the devil sells me one main lie: “my illness and God’s goodness cannot coexist.”

Over the past thirteen years, Crohn’s disease has been my “thorn.”  Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing intestinal damage and a whole slew of inflammation-related symptoms. As early as eight years old, I remember trying to reconcile my pain with God’s purpose.

As I pondered my place in God’s eyes, questions of doubt polluted my mind:

What did I do to deserve this illness?

If God actually loves me, why doesn’t he heal me?

How could a broken body fit into God’s plans?

By worldly standards, my value depended on what I could do, instead of what Christ already did.  For a girl who sleeps 12 hours a day, runs to the restroom every thirty minutes, and requires immunotherapy, a meaningful life appeared inconceivable.

Unrooted in God’s word, the presence of my pain seemed to indicate an absence of His affection.

But friend, this logic is simply unbiblical.  Let’s dispel this lie by replacing it with God’s truth and equip ourselves with biblical instruction for endurance. 

Maybe you don’t struggle with a chronic illness, but we all struggle with chronic issues.  Whether you were born with an incurable disease or the scars of your childhood abuse still plague your mind or the same addiction continues creeping into your life, God tells us that no trial can separate us from His Love (Rom. 8:35).

In fact, our pain might be the very tool God uses to strengthen our relationship with Him.  So, as we think about chronic illness, let’s redirect our minds from asking “what could I have done differently to prevent my pain,” to instead asking, “God, how are you working through my pain?”

Two purposes come to mind when I consider how God can work through our pain to refine our faith: reliance and glory.

1. RELIANCE – God can use our pain to encourage us to rely more fully on Him.

For those of us struggling to understand why God allows hardship to ensue, the book of Job is a masterpiece written just for us.  The bible describes Job as a faithful man with many blessings.  To test whether Job will still praise God’s name even when his life crumbles, God allows Satan to wreak havoc on Job’s life – striking his flesh and bones with sickness, infecting him with skin boils, and turning his family away (Job 1:4-9).  Job is not only chronically ill, but also chronically lonely, as his loved ones tell him to just give up and curse His Creator.

Let’s pause right here.  God allows Satan to test Job.  Now, why would God do this? Among many reasons, God uses suffering as a tool to refine Job’s faith.  God knows that it is in the valleys that we are encouraged to rely on our powerful Creator.

Amid adversity, Job’s mind is a battlefield much like my own; his thoughts oscillate between wanting God to leave Him alone and begging for God’s support.  In the end, through his wrestle with God, Job remains faithful that God’s promises are true.  He trusts that God Loves him in his pain and is working all things together for good.

As we learn in Job, sometimes God allows for illness, not to punish His children, but to strengthen their relationship with Him.When trials arise, may we trust that God’s plans are purposeful.  This means that whether we are battling a seasonal cold or fighting for our lives after tragedy strikes, God’s loving hand is in everything.

2. HIS GLORY – The contrast of our weakness with His Power emphasizes our need for a Savior.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes pleading with the Lord to remove a “thorn in his flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7).  In my own life, my “thorn” represents my disease.

Jesus addresses Paul’s request by equipping him with endurance and explaining that his pain has a purpose.  Jesus answers, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My Power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).  In this story, Paul’s pain serves as a reminder of his inherent inadequacy to our all-powerful God, ultimately pointing to his need for a Savior.

Though Jesus denies Paul’s request for healing, Jesus assures him that His grace will help him endure.  Paul is not blessed with physical healing, but instead, with a more valuable and versatile blessing: the ability to see God’s light in the darkness of his valley.  God doesn’t leave us to dwell in our pain, He helps us endure.

Jesus’ response gives hope to those of us whose prayers for healing seemingly go unanswered.  Next time we ask God to remove our “thorn”, may we remember that a lack of healing is not evidence of a distant God.  God always responds to our requests; His responses just might differ from what we planned.  No matter the response, if we trust God with our lives, we can be sure that He is working for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28).

As we learn from Paul’s interaction with Jesus, some of our wounds will only heal once we go home to Heaven, but we can trust that our pain is a part of a beautiful redemption story.

Let’s look at another example of how God can work through our pain to reveal His Power.  In John 9, Jesus is walking around town with His disciples when they spot a man who is blind from birth.  Jesus’ disciples ask him a question that might sound like one you’ve asked yourself before: “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (Jn. 9:2).  Sound familiar? The disciples mistakenly assume that this man’s disability is due to his personal sin.

Jesus corrects his disciples, responding, “neither this man nor his parents sinned…This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him” (Jn. 9:3).  With this declaration, Jesus dispels the lie that the only purpose for our pain is punishment, and He communicates that our pain can be used to display God’s power.

Jesus then heals the blind man, confirming his belief and establishing an eternal relationship.

Before his healing, we can’t be sure of how this man’s disability affected his self-esteem, but he might have believed some of the same lies that often ravage our minds.  When measuring himself against societal standards, he very well could have attributed his disability to a distant God.  However, when Jesus enters the picture, it becomes clear that this man’s disability was the very tool God utilized to strengthen his relationship with Him. 

As we reflect on these stories, the Word illuminates God’s heart for the chronically ill: God has a purpose for our pain, His Love does not waver, and He will work all things together for good, even the messy parts of our lives.

God does not promise to remove our thorns, but He does promise to help us endure.  Whatever your thorn looks like, may you remember that God provides a peace that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:6-7).

Throughout my battle with autoimmune flares, medical mysteries, and shattered plans, one verse has lit a spark of hope in my soul: “We do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:12).

Friend, however deep your thorns dig, may you never give up.

Lauren Styer is a Junior at Seattle Pacific University and a member of LO sister. She is a lover of the Lord who wants everyone to know the sweetness of our Savior. Lauren’s prayer is to encourage others to praise His name, even in the messiest of moments. God has placed on Lauren’s heart a passion for supporting people with disabilities, and she’s excited to use that passion in whatever calling He has planned for her.

Follow Lauren on Instagram @laurenstyer

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